7 Tips to Help Support Your Digestive Health
Good digestive health relies on a fully functioning digestive system to deliver the nutrients your body needs to thrive. Different foods can affect your digestive system, but so too can certain lifestyle factors like stress and lack of exercise. Here are a few healthy habits to help support your digestive health.
1. Keep a food diary
To help you identify your food triggers and avoid overeating, it’s a good idea to keep a food diary.1 Overeating can contribute to poor digestive health2, but tracking your food intake will help you stick to a balanced diet and maintain a healthy weight.3 On top of that, you can use your food diary to note tummy upset and coinciding moments of stress and other external factors other than diet.4 Listening to your body is a great way to tune into what you need to support your digestive health.
2. Get more fiber
When it comes to food, fiber is probably the number one healthy addition you can make to your diet. There’s soluble fiber that acts as a bulking agent, regulates blood sugar, and balances the pH of your gut; and there’s insoluble fiber that helps rid your body of toxins while also regulating the acidity levels of your intestines. Both are vital to good digestive health.5 For more fiber, eat foods like whole grains, oat bran, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
3. Stay hydrated
Eating more fiber won’t do you any good unless you drink enough water. Soluble fiber needs water to efficiently move digested food through the body. In addition, water helps deliver vital nutrients throughout your body while removing toxic waste and aiding in many other metabolic functions.6 It’s better to sip water throughout the day as you need it, rather than chugging a whole glassful as this can lead to bloating.7
4. Go walking
If you don’t already have a regular exercise program, try going for a 15-minute walk after meals.8 The exercise will increase your blood circulation and help speed up digestion. Exercising is also a great stress reducer and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
5. Supplement your diet with turmeric
Digestive health plays a big part in supporting healthy inflammation response†, so it’s important to eat whole foods as often as you can. Processed foods and refined ingredients score high on the dietary inflammation index.9 Stick to foods that support healthy inflammation response like turmeric. Taken as a dietary supplement, turmeric delivers a healthy dose of antioxidants and protective compounds beneficial for good digestive health.*,10
6. Eat probiotic foods
Probiotic foods like yogurt, kombucha tea, and kimchi are teeming with healthy bacteria that support digestive health. Your gastrointestinal tract needs these microbes in order to thrive and keep you healthy. Maintaining a good balance of vital microbiota by eating more probiotic foods is a healthy way to support good digestive health.11
7. Reduce stress
You know the minute you’re stressed out by that feeling you get in your stomach. Stress can cause all kinds of distress to your digestive health. As Harvard Medical School says, “Pay attention to your gut-brain connection – it may contribute to your anxiety and digestion problems.”12 Try practicing a few relaxation techniques to bring your stress levels down. Some people like daily meditation, others prefer breathing exercises or going for a walk in the park. Yoga is a great way to relieve stress and many yoga poses are designed to help digestive health.13 Finally, getting a good night’s sleep will greatly help you reduce stress levels.14 Digestive health is something a lot of us take for granted until we eat something that doesn’t agree with us. Digestive trouble causes a lot of discomfort and is a clear indication your body is in distress. So instead of reaching for an antacid, listen to your body. Try our healthy lifestyle tips to help support your digestive health.
Also, be sure to check out our article on 7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Add to Your Diet.
- Barbara Bolen, PhD. Keep a Food Diary to Identify Food Triggers. Very Well Health, Updated June 12, 2017.
- Ho W, Spiegel BMR. The Relationship Between Obesity and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: Causation, Association, or Neither? Gastroenterology & Hepatology. 2008;4(8):572-578.
- Elaine Magee, MPH, RD. Can a Food Diary Help You Lose Weight? WebMD.
- International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Are You a Gut Responder? Updated: 10 September 2015
- Otles S., Ozgoz S. Health effects of dietary fiber. Acta Sci Pol Technol Aliment. 2014 Apr-Jun;13(2):191-202.
- Popkin BM, D’Anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, Hydration and Health. Nutrition reviews. 2010;68(8):439-458.
- Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at Karolinska Institutet. Stop gulping away - you're not short of water.
- Loretta DiPietro, Andrei Gribok, Michelle S. Stevens, Larry F. Hamm and William Rumpler. Three 15-min Bouts of Moderate Postmeal Walking Significantly Improves 24-h Glycemic Control in Older People at Risk for Impaired Glucose Tolerance. Diabetes Care 2013 Jun; American Diabetes Association.
- Philip P. Cavicchia, Susan E. Steck, Thomas G. Hurley, James R. Hussey, Yunsheng Ma, Ira S. Ockene, James R. Hébert. A New Dietary Inflammatory Index Predicts Interval Changes in Serum High-Sensitivity C-Reactive Protein1–3. J Nutr. 2009 Dec; 139(12): 2365–2372.
- Mazieiro R., Frizon R.R., Barbalho S.M., Goulart R.A. Is Curcumin a Possibility to Treat Inflammatory Bowel Diseases? J Med Food. 2018 June 29.
- Rasnik K. Singh, Hsin-Wen Chang, Di Yan, Kristina M. Lee, Derya Ucmak, Kirsten Wong, Michael Abrouk, Benjamin Farahnik, Mio Nakamura, Tian Hao Zhu, Tina Bhutani, and Wilson Liao. J Transl Med. 2017; 15: 73. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health
- Healthbeat: Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. The gut-brain connection.
- Yoga Journal: Yoga for digestion.
- GI Society: Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. Sleep.
- Blog Contributor